Rafael Masters the Art of Focused Defense
Rafael has come to the Singapore Airshow to display a wide array of its products, which can be seen at Booth N55. The Israeli company has become a specialist in several key areas, such as air defense, precision weapons, reconnaissance sensors and systems, and command and control. It believes that its products and systems have great relevance in many areas of the world, especially in the Asia Pacific region.
“Discriminate, precise and proportional equals economic, efficient and effective,” stated Rafael’s president and CEO, Vice Admiral (Ret.) Yedidia Yaari, speaking to AIN on the eve of the show. “Everything we do conforms to this concept. We need to discriminate the bad guys from the good; we need to be very precise; and we need to be proportionate in our response to threats. We believe that these are the factors that future requirements will be based on.”
One expression of this concept in Rafael’s portfolio is the development of scalable families of systems, using common technology to give the customer a series of options, or common capabilities across a variety of platforms, while keeping development costs down. Rafael looks to new technologies and innovative ways of employing them to maintain a competitive edge, and to match with other companies’ competences within larger systems. “We have to focus on quality and ingenuity,” added Yaari.
Rafael’s solutions have been developed through the experience it has gained as a key supplier to the Israel Defense Forces, and the need to meet new threats as they emerge. “The Middle East has become something of a laboratory,” said Yaari. “What you can see there now happens elsewhere on the planet a few years later.”
Many of Rafael’s personnel have recent military experience, and many maintain that close knowledge of the front line through the reserve organization. This pays great dividends in the rapid identification of requirements and the development of new systems to meet them. “In Rafael the distance between ‘lessons learned’ and ‘weapons development’ is very short,” said Yaari. “It’s one of our secrets.”
One area that Rafael has focused on, and continues to do so, is defense against both short-range rockets and theater ballistic missiles. “In Israel the opposition came up with something that was difficult to counter,” said Yaari. “Therefore we developed the Iron Dome [for short-range air defense, now operational].” Much in the news, the ballistic missile threat is also crucial, and Rafael is working with Raytheon to implement the David’s Sling system that uses the company’s Stunner kinetic interceptor. “It’s a missing element in armed forces capability around the world, and that requirement is becoming critical now.”
Rafael continues to explore new technologies and mature existing ones. The company has considerable expertise in delivering sophisticated precision weapons, including the Derby and Python 5 air-to-air missiles that, in boosted form, are used by the Spyder air defense system selected last year by Singapore to replace Rapier.
Two key areas that Rafael is exploring are directed energy weapons to ultimately replace kinetic weapons, and the development of command/control systems to catch up with the explosion in the amount of data that can now be generated by ISR assets. “It’s now coming to a bottleneck in every system,” said Yaari. “We are capable of seeing everything, but we are not capable of managing all the data. It’s perhaps our biggest challenge.” That challenge involves fuzing large amounts of data and rendering it into a form that allows real-time decision-making.